A bronze bust of Lord Noon, the former Chancellor of the University of East London (UEL), was formally unveiled at UEL’s University Square Stratford building on June 19 at a ceremony attended by family members, friends and leading figures from the worlds of academia and politics.
Baroness Scotland, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and East Ham MP Stephen Timms, were among the guests as Lord Noon’s daughter, Zeenat, and the current Chancellor of UEL, Shabir Randeree CBE, performed the official unveiling.
A ‘wall of Noon’ – a series of framed prints telling the story of how Lord Noon rose from humble beginnings in India to becoming a hugely successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and peer of the realm – was also inaugurated.The bust and prints will be displayed permanently in the foyer of the University Square Stratford to inform students about his remarkable life.
Lord Noon, who died in 2015, built a vast food business empire and became popularly known as the UK’s ‘Curry King’ for turning his range of ready-made Indian food into a staple of the British diet.
He was appointed an MBE for his services to the food industry in 1994 and was knighted in 2002. In 2011, he was made a life peer with the formal title of Baron Noon of St John’s Wood.He was appointed Chancellor of UEL in 2013.Aside from his business interests, Lord Noon was also a generous philanthropist, donating millions of pounds to charities in the UK and India. His charitable work included two key initiatives: founding and building a state-of-the-art hospital in his ancestral home town of Bhawani Mandi and founding the Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business at UEL.
The Centre supports research and engagement in the area of workplace diversity and helps prepare students from diverse backgrounds for employment. Last year, it co-funded a trip to Mumbai for 50 students to develop their leadership skills and cultural intelligence. For some students, it was their first ever trip abroad.
“This is a very emotional, wonderful occasion for me and my family and I know my father would be smiling right now.He was so proud to be Chancellor of the UEL. He passionately shared the University’s values of equality, justice and social mobility, especially with such a diverse body of students, and he loved working with young people and interacting with them.
“The bust and the story of his life will help students understand his journey, what he went through and what he did for the University – and hopefully they will take something from that.” Zeenat Noon Harnal, who is Trustee of the Noon Memorial Legacy Trust, said.
“We at UEL are very proud of our connection with Lord Noon and the unveiling of the bust is a small token of our appreciation of that connection. Shabir Randeree said,
“It is a privilege for UEL to honour him in this way and I hope the bust and the story of Lord Noon will be an inspiration to our students.”